HAZARD – A Perry County man indicted on charges that he shot his father with a shotgun entered a plea and was given a trial date this week, while a judge also ruled against reducing his bond after the father testified on his son’s behalf.
Ronald Clark, 46, of Avawam, appeared in Perry Circuit Court Thursday where he pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree assault and two counts of first-degree wanton endangerment. It was on August 29, 2011 when police say he shot his father, Ronnie Clark, while the father was attempting to enter a pickup with two other people inside.
Clark, who was indicted in October 2011, remained at large until last week when officers with the Hazard Police Department detained him at the Hazard Kmart on separate charges of robbery and resisting arrest. He is currently in the Kentucky River Regional Jail in Hazard on a $250,000 bond.
Clark’s attorney, David Johnson, requested Thursday that his client’s bond be reduced, and called Ronnie Clark to the stand where he testified that his son had been living in an apartment above his liquor store, Clark’s Liquors, where the incident occurred, and they have had no problems since then.
Ronnie Clark testified that the incident was a mutual dispute, and that he fired shots at his son as well. He added that he did not wish to see his son prosecuted and had no objection to his bond being reduced.
Johnson painted the incident as one in which his client was acting in self-defense, and added that he also wasn’t sure how Ronald Clark could be charged with wanton endangerment in that light. Johnson requested that his bond be reduced to a surety or a property bond, and noted that Ronnie Clark was willing to put up his business for the bond.
Commonwealth Attorney Teresa Reed requested that Clark’s bond remain at $250,000, citing the nature of the charges against him. She noted that according to the police report, Ronnie Clark suffered 29 pellet strikes from the shotgun to his head, face, upper torso, arms and legs, and that several pellets also struck the pickup. The vehicle, Reed said, was occupied at the time by Ronald Clark’s girlfriend and her nine-year-old son.
Reed added that while she is aware that his father does not wish to press charges, she is also concerned that because it took so long to locate Ronald Clark, that he might be a risk when it comes to showing up for future court appearances.
“The defendant has been at large since October 14,” she noted. “Several people have called our office, reporting to speak for the defendant, saying that he was turning himself in. When the officers would try to find him, no one ever knew where he was. That concerns the Commonwealth because, of course, this court needs to know that the defendant will reappear for court.”
Judge Bill Engle denied Johnson’s request to lower Clark’s bond, citing the charges in this case and the citation in the newest case. Engle noted in his decision that, while he realizes these charges are only allegations at this point, he feels as if Clark could be “a danger to others.”
“There’s enough there that concerns me very much,” he said.
Clark is currently set for a jury trial on September 10, and is scheduled to appear for a pretrial conference on April 25.